Academy stars shine bright at awards ceremony

Some of the Hunter’s top young athletes have been recognised at this year’s Hunter Academy of Sport Awards, which were held in Newcastle tonight.


Hunter Academy of Sport CEO, Brett O’Farrell, said five major awards were handed out as part of a broader celebration of the achievements of the athletes and coaches participating in the Academy’s programs. 


The winners of the major awards each received a $1000 LifeSaver youth savings account from the awards’ major sponsor, the Greater Building Society.


Nicola Macdonald, 17, from Merewether, was named best and fairest athlete and also took out the outstanding female athlete award. Nicola took out bronze Woman’s U19 Scratch Event and silver in U19 team pursuit at the UCI Junior World Track Championships in Kazakhstan in August. Last week she won three gold medals in the individual pursuit, kieran and points race as well as a bronze in a scratch race at the U19 State Cycling Championships.


Erin Cleaver, 15, from Charlestown, took out the award for best individual performance by an Academy athlete for her performance at the IPC Athletics World Championships in October. She placed 4th in long jump and 6th in the 100m.


Ellie Lees, 17, from Lake Munmorah, was judged outstanding performer in a team sport for her selection to the U/17 NSW softball team last year, the U/19 NSW squad this year as well as selection in the Australian Women's training squad.


Kai Chapman, 16, from Cardiff Heights was named outstanding male athlete. Kai competed for Australia in the U/19 division at the Oceania Track Championships in New Zealand during October. Last week Kai won three gold medals in sprint, scratch and standing lap and a silver in the 1km ride at the U19 State Championships. He won a gold medal in the 66th Spectacle of Naaldwijk in Holland in July.


Mr O’Farrell said Academy athletes had performed exceptionally well this year, which is testimony to their skill and dedication as well as the support they receive from Academy coaches and support staff.  


“The Hunter Academy is an organisation built by the community and we want to thank everyone who has assisted our athletes to achieve great individual success,” he said.


Greater Building Society deputy CEO, Greg Taylor, presented the awards to the athletes. Mr Taylor said sponsorship of the awards was part of The Greater’s long-standing, broader support for the Academy and local athletes.


“We’re helping local athletes to be the best they can be in their chosen sport as well as to be financially fit and save for their financial future,” he said.


The Hunter Academy of Sport is the largest regional Academy in Australia. More than 600 talented young sports people from the region participate in 28 different talent development programs. Visit




Nicola Macdonald


David Williams Award

Best & Fairest Athlete

Erin Cleaver

Track and Field

Ling's Trophy

Outstanding Individual Performance by an Academy Athlete

Ellie Lees


Jack Farrell Memorial Award

Outstanding Performer in an team sport by an Academy Athlete

Kai Chapman


Terry Charlton Award

Outstanding Male Athlete in an Academy Squad

Nicola Macdonald


Saxon White Award

Outstanding Female Athlete in an Academy Squad